Wednesday, September 30, 2009

84 days and counting!

Mom used to use the phrase "A day late and a dollar short." Well, who isn't a dollar short these days? That's hardly a term to distinguish one from another in these hard times but I definitely feel like I'm running a day late ! (I actually am a day late. Notice there was no post yesterday?)

Maybe that's just a fancy way of saying I have no Working the Shows Wednesday for you this week. Blame it on vacation. I'm blaming everything on vacation lag at the moment. (I think "vacation lag" is related to jet lag.)

For all you readers who have counted on me for that Tuesday Countdown to Christmas - we're down to 84 days (That includes Christmas Eve in the count for anybody lagging behind.) I haven't done much to get ready either personally or business wise. (I'm soooo ashamed!!)

I have added a few holiday items to my shop but nowhere near the number I intended to add by now. Somewhere back in July, I made plans to add one item per day beginning August 1 and all of the items I was planning to add in that month would be holiday themed. So much for plans! Now, I'm starting to panic.

The good news is, some of my repeat customers have already contacted me to place Christmas orders. I admire them for planning ahead and shopping now. I wish I had.

Normally, we get our Christmas shopping started while we're at the beach in September (sometimes even before). There are just so many unique little gift shops there and they really do have some unique items. Add to that, we have a beach oriented family and many of our gifts feature beachy themes. We're also usually motivated by the fact that we're busy planning our Fall trek westward and it's a lot easier to load a bunch of gifts into the car than having to ship them later. So, as of today, I have one tiny little item for my man, and a few stocking stuffer sized items that I did find along the way and two package toppers that specifically cried out someone's name to me. Of course, I don't have any packages on which to attach those last two. Oh yeah, I also have two fancy gift bags that made me think of specific folks - again, nothing to put in them.

Of course, there are the gifts I want to make by hand for some members of the family, too. The plans are in my head but no work has begun yet. I feel pretty good about at least having some ideas for specific gifts but I've got to get busy making them a reality. Just as in previous years, I swear I am not staying up late Christmas Eve finishing gifts. Last year, I actually found myself testing paint to be sure it was dry before I could wrap on Christmas morning!! (I'll let you know how that oath works out in about 86 days!!)

I do have a goal for the week (besides finishing some orders that came in this past week while I was away.) I need to complete two birthday gifts that are already late. Then, I need to complete two that are due within the next two weeks. I have quite a few almost done items for the shop. It'd be great to get them done and listed, too.

Complicating this plan, of course, is the fact that it is already late Wednesday night and we have plans for Friday night and Saturday. Not much week left.

So, how is your holiday planning coming along?

Monday, September 28, 2009

More vacation highlights...

As I told you yesterday, we spent a lot of time watching, feeding and ducking the many birds that made our deck their lounge during the day. I'm just really pleased with the way this shot of seagulls turned out. They were just a few of a deluge of about 25 birds at that moment!
This little guy and his companions were constantly hanging about but were a little more shy than the gulls and grackles. I'm not sure what he is. He has a black body with a lighter brown head and chest and was similar in size to the grackles. They only came close when they actually saw food in our hands and would only take it when we sat on the rail. Anybody know what kind of bird this is?
On Thursday, we made the long trek (about 70 miles) down to the southern tip of Hatteras Island. We do this every few years. The last time we were down there was the year they moved the Hatteras Lighthouse.
While everyone associates the Outer Banks with the beautiful sand dunes, most do not realize that the dunes were actually man made. Prior to the 1930s, the islands were fairly flat with the exception of Jockeys Ridge in Nags Head and the dune the Wright Brothers flew from in Kill Devil Hills where the Wright Brothers Monument now stands. (History says they flew in Kitty Hawk but they actually flew a few miles short of that town. Kill Devil did not exist at the time of their flight but grew up around the actual sight later.) The dunes were created by the CCC (as part of Roosevelt's Depression recovery efforts to put Americans to work)) in the belief that the dunes would curb beach erosion. This has since proven NOT to help the beach and requires constant refurbishment to maintain the dunes.


The two dunes I mentioned above in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are two of the three "living" dunes along the Outer Banks. These dunes grow, shrink and move with time and weather conditions. They are truly awesome to behold.
I'd love to say an osprey allowed me to get close enough to take this picture but it is a shot of a stuffed one on display at the Natural Resources center at the Hatteras Lighthouse. This was the first time we had ever stopped in there and enjoyed the informative displays about the wildlife found on the island. (I still could not locate a pic of that little bird I'd like to identify!) I was surprised to learn that seals beach themselves on the area beaches from time to time. In all the years we've visited this area, I never realized seals were found this far North!


We took time to sit in on a talk given by one of the park rangers (Hatteras National Seashore is a national park.) and learned a lot of interesting things we had not heard in the many years we've wandered the area. One of the biggest surprises was that a few coyotes and foxes now live on the island! (This is a fairly recent development.) I did not think to ask how they believe the coyotes got there. I mean, did they simply stroll across the long bridge, stowaway on a ferry or swim? Are coyotes great swimmers? It's a pretty long swim from across the Sound.
Of course, we did take time to admire the Hatteras Lighthouse. I loved the way the light was shining in this shot. We didn't climb the lighthouse this time for the fantastic view from the top. I believe there are something like 275 steps and these old knees struggled enough with the steep steps at the beach house!


This lighthouse was originally built something like 1024 feet from the waterline but the shifting coastline and eroding beach left it standing only about 200 feet from the waterline a few years ago. Due to its historic significance, the decision was made to literally pick it up and move it a few years ago. They built an elaborate dolly system and slid it under the lighthouse and then rolled the dolly along some temporary portable tracks (like railroad tracks) a few feet a day until they moved it back about a half mile from the waterline. We actually went down to watch them move it one day and it was totally fascinating to watch the process. That was the last time we had gone down to Hatteras while at the Outer Banks.
Look how blue the water at the Oregon Inlet was that day? It was absolutely beautiful!! As it was very calm at that time, there were numerous fisherman standing waist deep in the water there.
This is a picture of the Bodie Point Lighthouse near the Oregon Inlet. I have never gotten any closer to that one than Highway 12 and we didn't break tradition this year either! Well, there's always next year!


If you are not a coastal person, you may be surprised to know that lighthouses each have their very own paint design and can be identified by that design. You might note that Bodie Point has wide horizontal stripes, Hatteras has the diagonal striping and the lighthouse a little further to the south at Cape Fear has a diamond design (although, officially, that is deemed a checkerboard design.) All working lighthouses also have a very unique and individual light sequence.

I hope you've enjoyed my little tour of the Outer Banks. It's an area I hold near and dear to my heart and always want to visit and revisit as often as possible. I don't believe you can beat this area for beauty and relaxation. (The seafood restaurants aren't bad either!)

We've got a winner!!!

Okay, I asked you all to come up with a funny caption for this pic:Let me say at the outset, all the entries were good ones and I liked two and had lots of trouble deciding. Happens I had a dining room full of people last night so I impaneled a few to judge for me. Seems the five I selected, none of whom had ever seen my blog, selected the one submitted by flannyoak:



Jay, I made dinner. Now, can I tell the secret family recipe?



She's won an Autumn inspired decorative piece which I will show to all of you later this week when I've finished making it!


I'll be back later with today's regular post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Home again!!

Of course, you KNEW there'd be a vacation sunrise pic, didn't you? This was the only morning I actually got out there early enough to catch the sunrise. I took this right from our porch. What a way to get up in the morning!

We arrived home in the rain last night after eight hours in the car (we did stop for meals along the way). Since the only perishables we had were the left-over pizza slices from dinner, we each grabbed an armload to carry in and the rest waited to be unloaded in drier weather today. About all we had the energy for was to wade through the mail pile before flopping in front of the TV to doze before hitting the sack!
We started the week off a little rough. That's our friends' vehicle on a lift 15 minutes after we left home! One new tire and our little caravan was on our way again. So, running an hour later than planned , we headed down the road to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. All in all, it was another great week at the beach! Our gang consisted of only four couples this year but we had some terrific meals and lots of laughs. We had the best weather we've had in years although Friday was rainy and we did drive in light rain most of yesterday to get home. The house we rented was fabulous and the ocean view was great. We watched the dolphins right in front of the house several times a day and they weren't just passing through. They'd stop and feed for a bit, close to shore, putting on a real show for us each time. Unfortunately, the zoom lens on my camera just isn't good enough to get them for posterity. We had numerous kite boarders each day and a couple of surfers came out each morning although the sea was so calm most of the week they pretty much used their boards like rafts to lie on in the sun. Last time we were in Nags Head, we were disappointed to learn one of our favorite restaurants had closed. The Big Guy and I had eaten there for many years and had introduced our gang to it the year before. So we were really excited to find it had reopened after a short hiatus to regroup and it is still run by the same family. The owner actually took time to come out and chat with our crowd and thank us for returning. If you're ever in the Outer Banks and want some terrific seafood, take the time to drive over to Wanchese on Roanoke Island for lunch or dinner at The Fisherman's Wharf and be sure to say "Hi" to the Daniels family for me. They serve fresh seafood direct from their own fishing boats which you can watch through the windows. The view of the sound is fantastic from their dining room. (Oh, and they have the absolute BEST hushpuppies known to mankind!)

Another surprise returnee was the original Christmas Shoppe in Manteo (also on Roanoke Island). Two years ago, this humongous house filled with all things Christmas (and a little Halloween) closed their doors after many years of year-round holiday cheer. Well, they're back!! Many, many rooms on the first floor feature tree ornaments, Christmas decor, paper goods, china, jewelry, collectibles, an art gallery of original art - many created there on the Outer Banks, and so much more that will fascinate you for hours. The second floor has the largest assortment of Halloween ornaments, decor and such I've ever come across. Be sure to allow plenty of time to roam through this attraction. We hand fed the seagulls and grackles on the deck. The grackles stayed close whenever they saw someone on the deck, often hanging over the edge of the roof above us and, literally, begging for handouts.
Like all vacations, the time passed much too quickly and there were so many things we didn't get to before it was time to pack up again. In past years, we've visited the northern part of the island to climb the lighthouse at Corrolla and see the wild ponies, played mini-golf , some among us have also played real golf on the island, gone off-roading on the lower beaches, and a few of the hearty have climbed Jockey's Ridge (the largest living dune on the East Coast). We've visited the Wright Brothers Memorial and toured the museum there, too. This year, we mostly sat and relaxed. But then, isn't that what vacations are for?


Tomorrow, I'll announce the winner of the funny caption giveaway from last week and tell you what they're winning. That was fun and I hope to do it again. Believe me, with some of the strange photos I take, I'm bound to come up with some others appropriate for strange captions!

Friday, September 25, 2009

What's in your life story?

I stumbled upon an absolutely compelling blog the other night. Since it was after midnight, I intended to shut down the computer, read a little of the mystery I’ve been working my way through and go to bed. Then, I clicked on dvmswife on the bloglist of one of my regular bloggers.


I was immediately sucked in by the candid, straightforward style with which Amy bared her soul as she revealed the frightening, traumatic story of a medical emergency in their family and the impact it has since had on their lifestyle. I was captivated by her honesty and the way she exposes her emotions throughout this journey. It’s a page-turner (or is that a post-digger?) I pushed on through the Older Posts for over 90 minutes! I found it drawing me in as well as any of the mysteries I’ve been reading lately. I wanted to know what was happening in my new friend’s life and wondered how I could help ease her burden. I can’t wait for the next installment.


As with so many of life’s upheavals, this one made Amy and her husband look at their lives, both individually and as a family. Early on in this involuntary adventure, she recalls a discussion with her husband where he asked:

“If you were to write a book about your life, would anyone buy your book, open it up, sit down and truly read it page for page? Would your life appear at all interesting to a complete stranger? Would you tell how you lived each day to the fullest possible? “ --Amy - dvmswife.blogspot.com (posted 8/7/09)


Have you ever asked yourself this? What would your answer be?

In another post, Amy asks “Is it possible to run out of tears?” I recently asked myself a similar question.

Lots of food for thought here. Take your time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So, why blog?

I spend a lot of time justifying what I do online to The Big Guy.


He understands the shop but he has quite a bit of trouble understanding participation in forums (other than the ones directly related to business issues). He really can't comprehend blogging, at all. I simply try to avoid discussing Twitter with him!


I try to do most of my posting in these areas when he's not around or at least when he's sleeping in his chair in front of the TV.


He can understand the back and forth discussion of business tips and sales techniques, etc., on the business related forums. He believes they have a purpose. He can liken that to the various engineering forums some of his colleagues at work participate in. Ultimately, he brings most issues down to whether they are likely to reap some sort of financial reward.

I do, however, participate in a forum of craft-oriented folks that spend time just fostering our cyber friendships. He has, to some degree, belittled this activity. He simply can't comprehend making friends with someone you have never met in person or who lives far away and you will most likely never come face-to-face. It was then that I realized he'd never had a pen-pal! I thought everyone had done that at one time or another.


At one point, he referred to these folks as my "make-believe friends." He's eased up on them a bit as my "make-believe" friends sent real sympathy cards recently when we sustained a loss and real e-mails outside of the forum when I truly needed them. I've also received both birthday gifts and Christmas gifts from several of these "make-believe" pals.


I Twitter to promote my shop, my blog and just to comment on what's happening around me. I do not tell my Twitter followers I am sitting on my porch, or eating my breakfast, like the commercial that satirizes Twitter a bit. Rarely do I Twitter more than, say, six times a day and often not at all. I don't Twitter when he's around at all.


But blogging ... now, blogging has become an addiciton. I admit it.


When asked by some poor soul who honestly doesn't understand what blogging is, I've equated it with a newpaper column. Since I started college as a journalism and mass communications major, my friends and family can immediately identify with that.


When asked why I blog, I have to give it more thought. I started because I was told it was a great way to get the online business out there in front of everybody. Promote - promote -promote. However, I don't do a lot of shop promoting. I do occasionally show something new and once in a while I push an item or two for whatever reason but for the most part, my Etsy mini is over there on the sidelines and that's about it.


But I think I blog mainly because I love to write. As I said, I planned a career in journalism but print journalism just isn't the career it once was. Broadcast journalism is a field for the young and beautiful. I've outgrown that!


I like to share information, tell stories and relate humorous events. I try to do it creatively. I believe this exercises one's mind. I also love to read others' writing and read their stories and tales. I've made some great friends through blogging. When I'm away without access to the computer, I miss all of you and can't wait to get back and "touch base" again.


I find writing therapeutic and, if you're going to write, you might as well find some readers. I often find I write something, planning to post it on the blog but, upon review, I decide it's a little too personal or too candid and I keep it to myself for my personal journal. (I actually call my personal journal "Blog Post Rejects.")



So, tell me, if you're a blogger, why do you blog? If you're a reader, why do you follow my blog or others?



Please give me some insight through comments on this subject. I can use all the ammunition I can gather for the next time The Big Guy asks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Sugarloaf Crafts at Wilmington, DE - Sept. 25-27, 2009


More than 200 national artists and craft designers will gather for the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival in Wilmington to present their contemporary crafts in a lively festival marketplace celebrating the American artist through a wide range of crafts, engaging demonstrations, music and family entertainment. The Sugarloaf Crafts Festival is open, Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27, 2009 at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.




The Sugarloaf Craft Festival showcases the wide range of contemporary crafts by offering both serious collectors and casual shoppers the opportunity to discover one-of-a-kind, handmade creations. Avid craft enthusiasts know that Sugarloaf Craft Festivals have long been recognized as the leader in offering the crafts that are featured in magazines, exhibited in fine galleries and museum shows, and acquired by prestigious collections; but the Sugarloaf show in Wilmington will also offer affordable and innovative functional and decorative pottery, sculpture, glass, home d├ęcor, furniture and home accessories, leather, fiber and wearables, items for the garden, fine art and photography.




Many artists at the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival use such classic skills as raku ceramics, glassblowing, leather working, blacksmithing and woodturning, while others exemplify the latest trends crafts, such as mixing materials, incorporating and repurposing recycled objects, and exploring new techniques and processes.



“We want Sugarloaf visitors to experience the full range of what is happening now in American crafts as well as seeing what they have always loved,” said Deann Verdier, president of the show’s producer, Sugarloaf Mountain Works. “For example, they can meet a well-established potter or a jewelry maker whose works are based on familiar designs, as well as a young painter or glassblower experimenting with more abstract images and new colors.”









The variety of crafts at the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival is complemented by a diversity of entertainment for the whole family. Throughout the show, master craftspeople will demonstrate their expertise in a range of media, including paper-making, metal spinning, and stone carving. The lively Festival marketplace includes specialty gourmet food for sampling and purchase; and eclectic musical performances, including acoustic guitar, live piano, and and vocal performances of French classics. Children can participate in their favorite fairytales with Middle Earth Studio’s dress up theater.


The Sugarloaf Crafts Festival will be held Friday, September 25 and Saturday, September 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Sunday, September 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. The Chase Center is located at 815 Justison Street, in Wilmington, DE.





Adult admission to the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival is $7 when purchased online, $8 for adults at the door, free for children under 12. Admission is good for all three days, and free parking is available.



Picture Directory (from top to bottom):

Pendant by Rona Fisher
Sculpture by Dan Murphy
Baskets by Victoria Cox
Tray with glasses by Susan Schmidt
Ring by Lisa Walsh

For more information about the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival, directions, or to purchase discount admission tickets visit http://www.sugarloafcrafts.com/ or call (800) 210-9900. Additional show information, artist profiles, and special offers may be found on the shows’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sugarloafcrafts.

About the Sugarloaf Craft Festivals:For over 30 years, the nation’s most talented artisans have sold their contemporary crafts and fine art at Sugarloaf Craft Festivals, rated as one of
the top craft experiences in the country. Last year, more than 250,000 visitors purchased over $20 million in fine arts and crafts directly from the artists at Sugarloaf festivals.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Truffles ? - Not for me, thank you!

I must be missing something. There was one of those cooking competition shows on tonight and the judges went on and on about how much polish was given to the dish simply by using a few black truffles for garnish and by making a truffle sauce to drizzle over the meat. That dish was a winner. I just don't get it. What's the great appeal of a truffle? (We're not talking the candy variety here, folks.)

I guess I’m just not sophisticated enough but after my one and only run-in with truffles (Again, I’m not talking chocolates!) - I just don’t understand their mystique.

Some years back, The Big Guy's sister was in town for a visit with the family and we decided to go out for a special dinner at Tio Pepe’s, a popular and classy Spanish-themed restaurant in Baltimore. The Big Guy and both sister-in-laws all ordered familiar dishes but I thought one of the specials sounded good - veal stuffed with black truffles, with a truffle sauce and truffled mashed potatoes. I LOVE veal but I had no idea what a truffle actually was. My B-I-L had also been considering the same dish but also had never had truffles.

I did ask what a truffle was. B-I-L authoritatively told me they were “the things pigs dig up in the French countryside.” I’m never sure when he's is putting me on and I often unconsciously play his straight man. He can be convincing. He did know what he was talking about that night but I don’t think he went far enough. I assumed it was a root vegetable like a potato or beet. Nobody mentioned it is basically a “fungus.” (I’m not a mushroom person either.) He simply asked me, “If Tio’s serves it, how bad could it be?

When our dinners came - I was very disappointed. I thought the taste was awful and the only word I could come up with was “pungent.” Of course, the entire plate was permeated with truffles! I nibbled here and there and finally managed to down about half of my meal. At that point, B-I-L, also unhappy with the taste, had not eaten ANY of his meal. he called the waiter over and adamantly declared them the “WORST truffles I have ever eaten!!” (Remember, he’d never eaten any truffles before.)

The waiter apologized profusely, immediately took his plate, and brought him another meal of his choosing. I had suffered in silence and was grateful for my sister-in-law having shared her green beans with me! They were delicious. (It's kind of hard to return a meal you've already eaten half of! )

I learned something that night, the squeaky wheel really does get the oil - or at least the best meal cooked in a fantastic oil! ? (My B-I-L had a great meal that night.)

The second thing I learned, was to only order foods you really can identify. Even if you've never had it before, it should be something you at least know something about!

Hope y'all have a chance to have a good meal this week. (Even if you do eat and like truffles!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

I feel like giving something away!

I'm feeling like a give-away!


Want to play?

We'll make it real easy. Just provide a humorous caption for this pic. Post your caption in a comment to this post and I'll put together a little judging team here at the house and we'll pick the best one. Deadline for entries will be September 27, 2009.


I don't recall where I found this picture so I cannot give proper credit to the photographer. Suffice it to say, I didn't take it. It does look just like my childhood dog though! His name was Snoopy and while he was talented, we never taught him to cook! (The only time I ever saw him standing at the stove, he was probably swiping something tasty.)



So, what do you win?

Ah, that is the question. It will be an item of my choosing, handmade by me and with a seasonal theme (not necessarily from my shop and probably not infant oriented). Think of it as a door prize or a party favor. It will come to you gift-wrapped. Basically, just a little thank you for stopping by and having a read.



*** Be sure to leave me an e-mail address or some way to get in touch, should you win!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heading to the Beach ...

Just a quick note before heading out to the beach for a full week of relaxing, eating, drinking, hot-tubbing and generally partying with our gang! It's been two years since we made the normally "annual" trek with this crowd and we're eager!! I'm sure I'll have some tales to tell on my return!!

There won't be any posts this weekend but I have a full line-up for your reading pleasure all next week, so please be sure to check in. There's a give-away, some thought provokers and a show preview, among others.

See you on the other end of the week!

Enjoy your week, too, whatever you're doing!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Light my sire!" {oops, "fire"}


Just a quick blurb as I'm really short on time today! I may be back later tonight with more of a chat but then, maybe not.

We're supposed to be completely packed for our week at the beach by tomorrow afternoon and I've been dawdling and now I'm in a time crunch. So much to do!

Of course, I'd do better if this danged computer didn't call out my name every time I go through the room. It's just so damned alluring. It calls my name in this low, sultry tone, urging me to come closer. It whispers, "Just come here for a sec..."

Okay, willpower is NOT my strong point!

Embarrassment can go a good distance though. I think Twitter needs an edit button for those of us who don't do a lot of proofing before hitting the "send" button.

I sent this one out a few moments ago:
"Somebody light a sire under me, please. I have so much to do today and NO motivation! Help!"

Yep! I just put out a worldwide request for a "sire" to be lit beneath me! Man, would The Big Guy be surprised to read that one!

Obviously, I didn't mean "sire". I meant "fire."

So, I immediately clarified that with:
"Excuse me!! That was supposed to say "Fire" not sire! But then a lit sire could be interesting!"


And, on that note, I'm heading for the laundry room.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Pockets Full of Money !!!

As we finally settle into the swing of the Fall craft show season, it seems fitting to ask just what you’re doing with all that cash at your shows. I mean, do you have it locked up tight like Fort Knox or laying out in the open like those popular “Need a Penny” dishes near so many store registers? Hopefully, you’ve found a comfortable medium there.

The majority of sales at most shows are transacted in cash. We need to carry a supply of cash for the purposes of making change and, on a good day, we need to carry money home by the fistfull. So, how do we contain that cash? It needs to be kept in a somewhat handy manner for the purposes of making change in a busy sales environment but must also be secure to keep it from springing legs of its own.

Robbery is not usually a huge problem at most shows but, most promoters and organizers will admit, it can happen. Most show contracts specifically state the show is not responsible for any damages resulting from theft of merchandise or cash. While many shows do have some security personnel, you are on your own when it comes to holding on to your cash (and merchandise).

Most thefts at craft shows are crimes of opportunity, meaning we make it easy for the crooks. Common sense comes into play at this point. Let’s assume we are all bright enough not to leave a huge amount of cash laying out on our tables for all to share. It is important to keep the change box easily accessible to you as the seller but out of reach for the average customer. In my opinion, it is also wise to keep only the bare minimum of cash in the change box or tray (as the case may be). If your change container is grabbed, the crook will only have a minimal profit and you will still be on solid financial footing for the remainder of the show.

Booths with back drops or walls as a back border are always best as the general public does not have easy access to your backside. This gives the opportunity to have an additional, lower table height behind your display tables to keep your change container and other vital business supplies together and not reachable from the front of the table. If this is not an option try to sit an open, shallow box under the edge of your table with your change tray sitting inside of it where you can simply reach in and easily grab what you need.

Many sellers are now using small electric or battery-run cash registers. The drawers can be locked or coded so that they can not be opened easily by unauthorized fingers. Unfortunately, these registers don’t weigh much and can be easily disconnected from their plugs with a quick hand motion. I have seen instances where these have been grabbed, dropped into a fabric tote bag and easily carried off. Again, only keep basic change amounts in the register.

Keep all bigger bills and the major portion of cash separate from the change tray as this is the most visible of your money. I subscribe to the theory that it’s best to have the majority of that cash on your body. Pants with lots of pockets are great, money aprons or belts, or even the incredibly fashion-lame fanny pack (worn in the front), are also good.

***Do NOT keep checks or charge slips in the change box or cash register. These are generally larger sales and can account for a large portion of your sales. Again, pockets are good. I have also seen sellers who slip these into what appears to be an empty stock box under the table. (Crooks are unlikely to try to steal your empty boxes!)

Doing a show alone? While you might ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your booth while you make a potty run, it is not wise to turn all of your cash over to them. For sales not covered by the minimum in your change tray, they can simply ask the customer to wait for a second. (I’m assuming you will be literally running this personal errand you are on and not strolling around enjoying the free entertainment.) I’m not questioning the level of integrity of your neighboring crafter but I’m simply aware that they have a lot going on at that moment, what with watching both displays and dealing with customers’ questions etc. After all, most of us are just asking them to “keep an eye” on things, not make us rich while we’re gone.

Also, be aware many shows do provide “booth sitters” for those who are working alone. Most of these folks are simply volunteers willing to spend a few minutes in your booth “watching” it. Many are instructed by the show management NOT to conduct a sale. They won’t need cash backup form you.

Most cash thefts at shows occur during loading in and out. I, personally, keep my cash secure in my car until everything is unloaded. My cash is also the first thing to go into my car when packing up. (Glove boxes do lock for a reason.) It is never left unattended in my booth space during these times.

DO NOT be overly obvious when handling your cash stash. DO NOT stand behind your table counting out the wad to see how you’re doing. No one needs to know you are carrying several hundred dollars in your pockets. When carrying your cash in or out of the show, DO NOT pack it in a clear ziplock bag and carry it like a purse! (Yeah, I have seen this!)

One unique approach I have witnessed while doing a Main Street type festival was seeing a crafter make an ATM deposit of excess cash. Apparently a branch of his bank was located right on the corner. He was doing well and had several hundred dollars in cash on him. He simply walked over and deposited a large portion to his account. Now, that’s protecting your cash!

Again, use common sense. Be aware of your surroundings. Use the same precautions you would use using the ATM at your local shopping center on a busy Friday night.

Happy selling, y’all !!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

100 Days and Counting . . .

Yep! That jolly old guy with the white beard and fancy schmancy red suit with fur trim is approaching. If your house is like ours, he needs some help getting the job done and that’s where my time crunch starts.

Every year I swear I am going to be ready with time to spare and things will be “just right.” I just know this is the year that the door decoration will be super eye-catching (and it will be up before December 24th, honest). I know I will have baked plenty of cookies and made all the Christmas candy (this is big in our family) weeks ahead of time. Oh, and all those fantastic, unique and custom-handmade-by-me gifts will be packed and wrapped (creatively, of course) days before the holiday. My cards will also all be mailed by that humorous deadline the Post Office always tells us about. (And who says our government can’t tell jokes?) Oh yeah, I’m also going to be 25 lbs slimmer by Christmas! It will be the perfect holiday this year!!!

Isn’t it fun to fantasize?

Seriously, I have been working on the gift list for this year and trying to decide what each person will be getting from us. (Our life is further complicated by a huge number of Fall and December birthdays.) To make it even more difficult, I have always preferred to make the gifts myself. This does not always translate into a more economical approach but it does come across as more personal. My family has always stressed this and I’m happy to say I see both of the next generations trying to keep the “personal” aspect in it - whether they make the gifts themselves or at least give some real thought to what they give. Since The Big Guy and I always make a cross-country trek in the Fall, I also try to have many of the gifts for that part of the family ready so we can simply transport them in the back of our van as opposed to doing the shipping dance with the Post Office. So, the push is on.

I’m entertaining ideas as to “something special” to make for the older folks on the list - you know, those in their 80s and 90s who really don’t want a lot more knick-knacks, etc. They don’t need a lot of clothes these days and can only use so many lap afghans, etc. Due to the many diet limitations, I have also eased up on the homemade goodie baskets for them, too. What to give, what to give - that is the question !

MEMORY BOOK
My cousin and her gang recently created a great gift for her Mom who turned 90. I’m thinking of adapting this idea for someone on my list, too. They made a Memory Book. Yes, it is just a variation on scrap booking so it shouldn’t be too hard to design and create. What they did, was ask each grandchild (now all adults) and great-grandchildren what their favorite memories of their Grandmom were. The older ones listed their ten favorites and, for the most part, related them to time spent at her home. The little ones were more limited and included such things as “She always wears sparkly jewelry” or “She smells good.”. When possible, the memories are written in the kids’ own handwriting. Of course, they included photos of the kids with Grandmom and, even better, included pics the little ones drew of her! They bound them all together in a manageable sized photo album that she keeps on the coffee table. My aunt is so proud of this gift! She shows it off to everyone!

In the one I’m considering (for a different lady in the family), I’m thinking of including specific questions for each to answer. (We’re dealing with a mostly adult tribe for this one.) Things like favorite meals, favorite comments, phrases or sayings we associate with her, best vacation memory involving her, etc. I’m even considering asking each to come up with three words that best describe her. From past experience, I know it takes a bit of time to put these gifts together, so I hope to firm up my plan this week and get busy on it as soon as we get back from the beach.

So, what are you already working on for the holiday crunch time?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bits 'n' Pieces

R.I.P., Patrick - You made my life richer!

My heart goes out to Patrick Swayze's family and friends. He put up a valiant fight and made the best of the time he was here with us. His legacy will live on for many years. I might need to sit back and watch Roadhouse or Ghost tonight in his honor. I, for one, will miss him.

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As I always have a few mini-subjects stock piled that I want to share, I've gathered a few up for tonight's post. Hope you enjoy them.

Did you hear about the guy who robbed a bank just as an excuse to get away form his wife? In Ephrata, PA (near Lancaster), a man expressed a desire to end his marriage in 2007 but his wife threatened suicide if he did. A compassionate man, he robbed a bank instead in hopes of getting a jail sentence, and, in that way, to get away from her. Well, he got his wish, two-fold. He was sentenced to 3-6 years for armed robbery (he used a BB gun) on Monday and his wife divorced him within the last few months. She didn't want to be married to a criminal!!

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How about some trivia? We've all heard the stories about miners taking canaries into the mines to act as CO detectors since the toxic gases tend to build up in those tight confined spaces. The fact I never heard until tonight, was that the birds' respiratory systems adapted to the gas and the miners would pass out before the birds did! So much for those tales of super bird heroes!! I wonder how many canaries lost their jobs when this scandal broke! (Shot the heck out of PETA's arguments there, too.)

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Okay, now something for your tummy -
I ordered a "Cajun Sausage" from a festival vendor last week. It sounded good and I expected something like a nice grilled andouille. Instead, it was a regular, decent quality mildly spicy sausage link that was laid in the roll, had some somewhat salty Cajun seasoning sprinkled over it and some sauteed onions plopped on top. Not what I had in mind but fairly tasty.

Of course, that got my mind working. Since andouille is often hard to come by in this end of the woods, I liked the concept and may very well try this on my own with some changes. I would try a little better quality spicy sausage, some salt-free Cajun seasoning (I make my own), a true Trinity of onions, peppers and celery (the basis of many a Cajun dish) and maybe even a remoulade sauce poured over the whole thing. I may even try this next week with our beach crowd. I'll have to let you know how that goes over.

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At the same festival, I came across a really unique photography technique. The artist had managed to maintain really vivid coloring in his prints which featured extremely simplistic subjects against very plain backdrops - single flowers, leaves, food, fish, etc. He then enlarged them well beyond life-size and developed a system of printing the pics onto artist's canvases. It gave them the effect of an original oil painting! He did have to keep after folks not to touch the framed pictures as customers just felt compelled to feel the texture of the canvas. Almost everyone asked "How'd you do that?" To which he replied, "It's magic!"

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That's all for tonight, folks !!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New friends through crafts



We spent the afternoon at a small, local Parks & Rec festival. This is a small, tight-knit community located along one of the local creeks and very close to the Chesapeake Bay. They have put on this three-day event for a number of years now in the waterfront community park where the kids play all their various sports. The money raised supports the work of the rec council.



The music was, as usual, terrific. One of the local bands we follow normally plays this event on Friday night but due to a schedule conflict they played this afternoon. Normally a 5-piece group, they were a trio today but still put on a great show of popular 60's, 70's and other well-known tunes. The crowd was swaying and singing along with the band. They were followed by a popular local band that's known for great country entertainment. Unfortuantely, due to other comittments, we needed to leave before they were set up. The evening band, anchored by the local mail carrier, is an always popular show so folks were already anticipating their performance, too.

The weather today was beautiful, bright blue skies with fluffy white clouds, a big improvement over the wash out on Friday and the drizzle all day yesterday. We made a new friend with one of the crafters today who told us they had a great crowd yesterday considering the weather. Although this was her first time selling here, she is local and is familiar with the normal crowds here. I thought today's crowd was a little thin but then the Ravens had their opening game for the season today. I can safely say I saw a flood of purple Ravens shirts but absolutely no Chiefs fans wandering around !

There were only two true crafters there and both were more "Loving Hands" type as opposed to true professional booth displays. Both are retirees trying to make a few extra bucks. Their prices were very reasonable and they were making sales. (Please understand, I have nothing against "Loving Hands" work. I buy a fair amount of their wares myself. I merely mean, I didn't gain any great display ideas or such from them.)

The first booth has been at this event for several years now. A retired couple creates handpainted, wooden cutouts of popular licensed characters ranging from 6" to about 2' in size and also does beautiful, detailed handpainted plaques featuring local lighthouses and other coastal landmarks and sights. They also make basic-style, handpainted birdhouses. Their work is expertly done and beautifully painted. In my opinion, the latter two lines are what they should be pushing. They do these very well and they are definitely priced to sell. If they eliminate the licensed characters and spruced up the display a bit, I believe they would have no trouble getting into a larger juried show. I'm just not sure if they could handle that kind of sales volume.

The second, our newest friend, was the sweetest elderly lady (based on our conversation, she must be close to 80!) She was doing this show completely on her own without any assistance! In our quest for a spot of shade, we ended up sitting our chairs fairly near the back of her booth.
The booths were set up along the inside edge of a pavilion and at one point, we noticed her chair was somewhat precariously perched on the edge of the concrete slab and she would most likely fall backward in the foreseeable future. The Big Guy jumped up and helped her resituate the chair which opened our line of communication.

We discussed craft shows and learned this was her first "real" show. Her merchandise was varied including some small stuffed toys, beaded animals, fabric angels, handtowels with crocheted hanging tops, plastic needlepoint items, some small novelty items, and more. All of the items were made by her. She's been a busy lady! She was making a number of sales (I feel her prices are quite low) and was very happy with the volume. The Big Guy learned her husband is retired from the same company he's about to retire from so they discussed the state of the company (at one time the largest employer in the county). As she was alone, I offered to make a food run for her and, before we left her, she made a potty run herself, grateful for our assistance.


Apparently, while I was on that food run, he managed to guide the discussion around to my website and gave her a business card. I'm not sure she has a computer of her own at the moment but she plans to call me to discuss setting up to sell online both her merchandise and what sound like some great vintage collectibles. I think we've adopted her!!

She was truly disappointed when it was time for us to go and hugged us goodbye, wishing us a good vacation next week and promising to call me soon. I am looking forward to it!

Aren't craft folk just the greatest people? We've made so many close and wonderful friends throughout the years at craft shows.

I hope y'all take time to smile at a stranger, offer a helping hand now and then and don't be afraid to possibly make new friends. You never know where it could lead.
(I met my husband through craft shows - many years ago!)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Family - good food, good times

How did we get to the weekend again so soon?

It was a gray day here yesterday and I was in a gray mood. Rather than spread that mood among you, I chose not to post. Instead I curled up with a book, some chocolate and my TV and wallowed in that mood. Things did look brighter this morning.

We had a family party to attend today and saw many family and friends we haven't seen in a while. Our niece graduated from grad school two weeks ago. She is now a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and she received her Masters in Public Health, too. She's worked very hard for years to accomplish this and we are very proud of her. She now has to select from among several job offers. All have been good offers which makes it difficult for her to choose.

We had a full day of food and chatter and wrapped the evening up with about ten of us stragglers sitting around a candle-lit table in the backyard, playing a word game for a couple of hours. Everyone else had gone home and just a few of the immediate family were still hanging in there. It took me back a few years to when these kids were young teens and we'd sit around playing Boggle, Trivial Pursuit and other games. Back then family events made up a huge portion of our "social life" and we have many fond memories of those times (as evidenced by the many tales we told and laughed at today!!)

I believe I fully understand the circle of life concept at times like this, when you look around and realize we've become the "older" generation and the kids are now becoming parents themselves. The get-togethers remain the same but the faces change and the circle grows. And it feels pretty good.

I hope y'all take some time to truly enjoy some family time this weekend.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

PSECU Artfest at Kipona (or Working the Shows Wednesday on Thursday!!)

The PSECU Artfest, presented annually by The Greater Harrisburg Arts Council, takes place over the 3-day Labor Day weekend as part of the City of Harrisburg’s Kipona Celebration. This year, over 150 juried artists and craftspeople from across the United States participated in this fantastic event in Riverfront Park along the banks of the Susquehanna River.

I can honestly say this was the highest quality craft show I have seen in several years! There was absolutely NO buy/sell merchandise. Now that was refreshing! Every booth display was well planned and interestingly arranged. Most featured customized shelving or framing. I found something new and different in just about every booth. This is one show where the jurors have done a superb job of selecting a varied group of truly, unique, professional exhibitors who offer a wide range of styles and prices to appeal to a large portion of the buying public.

Trends I noticed at this show included COLOR in a big, bright and bold way! More than one person was pushing larger than life close-up impressions of flowers and extremely vibrant depictions at that, definitely giving new meaning to adding a “splash of color” to a room. Unusual to see flower themes surfacing in the Fall but it seems to work (and sell).

FUNCTION was also big. While presenting true beauty and detailed art techniques, almost all 3-D items there had a functional purpose, not just a life of shelf-sitting. The 2-dimensional art seemed to feature much more DETAIL, regardless of technique. I, for one, appreciate realism and was quite impressed with the variety available.

In addition to flowers, there was a tremendous amount of sea and ocean influences (even a lot for those of us here on the Coast) and a surprising selection of celestial designs.

A large percentage of the merchandise offered leaned toward the higher end (but very reasonable for the type if work), there were many lower priced pieces available for the average shopper. Small prints, soaps, note cards, magnets, mugs, etc. were in abundance as were earrings, pins and even some pendants and hair accessories for under $20. I saw quite a few sales happening and even witnessed a number of 2-D works being sold.

I don’t like to take pics without the artist’s permission and I usually conduct an interview when doing so. The show was busy when I was there and I did not have lots of time for interviewing so I didn’t photograph any individual booths. Instead, I’ll mention just a few here and lead you to their websites.


When it comes to 2-dimensional art, I’ve always been attracted to sketches. I was impressed with these pen and ink designs by Michael Smith. He uses technical pens with very fine points to create super detailed sketches that can take up to 45 hours to draw. He then reproduces them as offset lithographic prints, signs and numbers these Limited Editions and sells them framed, matted or loose. Loose prints can be had for as little as $15. He has a huge line of Western New York landmarks and recognizable buildings from most New York colleges and universities. What a great gift for an alum! Check out his fire, police, train and fighter plane pics as well as his baseball stadium selection at http://www.mssgraphics.com/. I fell in love with his “Motorcycle Grannys.”

Then there were the cool art magnet boards by Diane Kaylor. Her cozy paintings of rooms, pastures, fields, oceans and even a quilt have been made into framed magnetic boards. She’s designed a collection of magnets appropriate for each like cats, dogs, farm animals and fish. You can hang the boards and use them for messages or even let your child’s imagination run wild as with the traditional flannel boards. ( I like the latter use.) Individual magnets are available, too. See Diane’s work at http://www.dianekaylordesigns.com/.


Finally, I fell in love with this blue fused glass bamboo design by Deb Becker. I just need to convince The Big Guy that I NEED it. (We define “need” differently. Must be one of those male/female issues.) Deb also does wooden tree carvings using her scroll saw, stained glass mosaics and fused glass ornaments. Please take a look at her work at http://www.woodnglass2.com/.

I could share so many more faves but then you’d never have time to look these over for yourself! Maybe another day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Big Show Bites the Dust - Leaving Exhibitors In Limbo

It is with great sadness I bring news of the sudden death of the decades-old Brandywine Arts Festival in Wilmington, Delaware this week. --And, no, it WASN'T a victim of the economy ! (I don't think the butler did it, either.)

The show's demise was "sudden" in the sense that it was still a "go" two weeks ago. Organizers just didn't know "where" it would be happening. Sometime between Saturday and now, the show has been cancelled.

This week's show would have been the 49th annual occurrence of this large, family-oriented festival held in a State park along the Brandywine River. The show often attracted upwards of 20,000 people. Crafters have long considered this a good and profitable event. It was one of The Big Guy's mainstays for a number of years in the early 80s.

I was a bit shocked to see a news article on Saturday (9/5) stating the organizers had secured a location and would be obtaining permits this week. Whoa ! That left 4 business days to get the paperwork done and publicize the new site. What was happening?

It seems the organizer owes the State of Delaware (not the City of Wilmington) some money from last year's event. Sources put that figure somewhere between $6,000 and $8,500 for permits, police coverage, DPW and other related expenses. I can only assume they attempted to collect that money throughout the year and, as a result of the outstanding debt, withheld the necessary permits and use of the State-owned park for this year's event.

Apparently, the organizer then began a search for a new location and announced on their website in June that the festival would now be taking place at St. Anthony in the Hills in Avondale, Pennsylvania. However, no contract was signed with St. Anthony's. Permits were not in hand, proof of insurance was not forthcoming and police permits were not applied for. St. Anthony's refused to allow the event to take place on their property. Remember, there was never a signed agreement. The organizer never provided the required paperwork. She did, however, list the new location on the festival's website.

Last weekend, one week before the event, the organizer announced the event would now be held at the old Walker Farm in Hockessin, Delaware. Seems the site's owners, a development firm, wanted to help and had offered the new location. As of 9/5, the festival had not applied for permits from the County (with only 4 business days to go) but DID post the new site on their website.

One has to wonder how the general public (the potential customers) would find their way to the event. How much publicity could be obtained in less than a week?

So, where's that leave the artists and craftspeople?

Got a paddle ?

A little digging has revealed there are over 150 exhibitors who have paid their money and planned to sell there this weekend. Communication from the organizer has been poor. In August, some exhibitors were advised of a location change and were told the show had moved to St. Anthony in the Hills in Avondale, Pennsylvania. (Uh, oh. Warning flag !!!)

Let's start by saying this is NOT a non-profit organization putting this show together. This is NOT a cheap show. Spaces go for $300-$350 for a 10'x10' . A number of folks rent double spaces. Let's also note that the organizer had already collected somewhere in the neighborhood of $45,000 in space fees and at least $300 in jurying fees.

Communication has been poor, most recently, non-existent. The organizer claims she has had trouble with her e-mail account but has answered as many calls as possible. Crafters have stated the voice mail box has remained "full" and will not accept new messages.

Crafters were never advised of a possible location change when they applied for the show. Site changes can kill an established show and most experienced exhibitors approach site changes like new first-time events. Bear in mind, neither of the "new" locations were right-around-the-corner from the original site. At the most recent site in Hockessin, there is limited parking and the 14-acre property is located on a narrow 2-lane road. Local officials there had concerns about traffic volume and related matters. Again, remember, we're talking one week before the event!

The organizer claims all of these problems came about as a result of the State Police cancelling last year's rain or shine festival due to the remnants of a Tropical Storm coinciding with the event. The area was plagued by considerable flooding and there were public safety issues due to the storm. She supposedly lost $20,000 on the 2008 event.

Exhibitors are now in limbo. They signed up for a well established, successful show with a history of good attendance and decent sales. They did their homework and made well thought out business decisions. Will they get a refund? If so, how soon? It's a given they are out a selling opportunity on a prime weekend. It is unlikely any will find replacement shows on a day or two notice.

I don't have any answers for them. I can only sympathize with them and keep my fingers crossed they'll find a way to make up the sales. This loss was a big blow.

Stay tuned for more of "As The Show Dies." I'll try to keep you advised of any progress in this matter.

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I had planned to tell you about last weekend's craft show at Kipona in this space today. I guess, I'll have to give you a bonus Working the Shows post tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FIFTEEN WEEKS !!!!

THIS IS YOUR 2ND WARNING: CHRISTMAS IS COMING , FAST !!!!!!

As of today, we have 15 weekends left to get ready. So, how much have you done toward that goal?

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Have you heard of Project Rudolph?

Project Rudolph was begun by one military family (the brainchild of an Army wife) in 2006 to give deployed service members a bit of holiday cheer. Small gift bags are created by, literally, thousands of volunteers, mostly from the United States and Germany, to be distributed to service members spending their holiday away from home and family serving our country. These soldiers are at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (the largest American hospital outside of the United States) or transitioning through one of the largest military airports in the world, Ramstein Airport on Ramstein Air Force Base. Bags are also distributed to injured warriors at transition barracks, deployed Navy personnel and Marines working in Germany, our deployed troops downrange and active duty Air Force members working to keep the airport running round the clock throughout the holidays.

All are spending their holiday far away from home and family, serving our country and protecting our lives. Many traveling through Ramstein Airport are just embarking on a year-long deployment. Those who are patients at Landstuhl have sustained serious injuries requiring surgery and hospitalization. For many, this is a short stop to be stabilized before being removed to a stateside hospital for further treatment.

What's in each bag?

Each soldier is given a decorated brown paper bag containing hand-written letters of appreciation - two from children and one from an adult, a pocket-sized (preferably flat) non-breakable Christmas ornament with "Project Rudolph 2009" written on it, German and American candy, a candycane, and a Christmas poem . In 2008, over 8000 bags were distributed !

When Tawny Campbell and her husband, Sgt. Joseph Campbell, began the effort in 2006, they had a goal of 500-750 bags and were overwhelmed by the project. A Boy Scout in Oakley, Idaho, Ian. M. Archibald, took Project Rudolph on as his Eagle Scout Project and helped to make that early effort a great success. The size of the effort has, unfortunately, needed to be upped each year since.

They need our help to make Project Rudolph 2009 another great success.

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Can you write a letter of thanks to a soldier? It should only take you a few minutes to do so. Maybe you could write several. (They MUST be handwritten. Remember we want this to be personal and heartfelt!) Maybe your kids can help, too. Each bag needs two letters from children.

** There are rules to writing these letters.

Letters CANNOT :
** Be dated.
**Ask any questions about war, injuries, killing, etc. (At least 10% of the letters donated cannot be used due to such questions.)
**Be politically motivated, mention politicians or political affiliations.
** Be typed or photocopied.
**Be sealed in an envelope. (ALL must be reviewed before they are distributed.
Letters CAN :
** Express support and appreciation.
**Include a drawing by a child.
**Tell about the writer's family.
**Share personal experiences that motivate.
**Include a return address.

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Can you make ornaments of some sort? They should be pocket-sized (4" square or smaller), preferably fairly flat and, definitely unbreakable. Small flat wooden pieces, crocheted, knitted or plastic needlepointed items are good, flat fabric items - I'm sure you can come up with your own ideas.

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I'm participating in this effort this year in honor of my nephew, Tom, who passed away several weeks ago. A Desert Storm veteran, Tom was very proud of his military service and was very concerned about our soldiers having spent quite a few Christmases away from home. I know he would be touched by the effort and I regret not having found the time to do so last year when I first learned about Project Rudolph and he was still here with us to fully appreciate the Project. I'm sure it would make him happy. I am making ornaments and writing Thank You letters, as well as, rounding up friends to do the same. (Groups of children decorate the gift bags as class and scout projects.)

If you'd like to assist me in these efforts, please contact me by e-mail or through an Etsy convo.

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You are also more than welcome to gather your own donations and send them to Tawny yourself.

If you'd like to know more about Project Rudolph, click here.

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ALL PROJECT RUDOLPH DONATIONS MUST BE MAILED BY VETERAN'S DAY - NOVEMBER 11, 2009 !!!!

You can send donations of letters, ornaments and cash (for candy and supply purchases) directly to: Tawny Campbell at CMR 402 Box 2414, APO AE 09180 or you can e-mail her directly at taznjo [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Project Rudolph is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit charity. They are also part of America Supports You.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day - Summer's Unofficial Demise

Have you ever seen a New Orlean's style funeral procession?

The casket is carried through the streets on its trek to the cemetery, followed by a trail of weeping mourners, mostly women wearing black and carrying parasols and doing a Cajun shuffle. Live musicians play jazz tunes as the procession steps its way to the final resting place. It is definitely a celebration of life and a fancy send-off.

Well, today, in Bethany Beach, Delaware, you can witness just such a funeral procession. At 5:30 p.m., the 24th Annual Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral will begin its procession at the north end of the Boardwalk. Flying in the face of its reputation as "The Quiet Resort," Bethany is sending the summer off in a loud and raucous fashion as beach goers enjoy just a bit more fun in the final hours of the summer of 2009.

The procession will include weeping women in black, shuffling to a jazz beat as they follow a coffin and a tombstone. The epitaph on that stone reads: "R.I.P. dear friend summer 2009. Born: 25 May. Died: 7 Sept." Several Dixieland string bands will follow the mourners in the procession.
The public is encouraged to fall in behind the bands as the procession moves to summer's final resting place at the Boardwalk Bandstand. Everyone is then encouraged to enjoy the remaining evening by frequenting local restaurants and businesses. (Traditionally, many businesses either close for the season or drastically curtail their hours after Labor Day. many will only open for weekends through September and then close until April or May of 2010.)
Some of those who have spent the major portion of their summer in Bethany, will hold private "wakes" this afternoon before heading up to the Boardwalk to join the procession.


A few years ago, organizers added a "new" feature to the event, a silent auction to benefit a different charity each year. This year's auction, held Friday at Bethany Blues benefited Habitat for Humanity of Sussex County. Auction items included restaurant gift certificates, wine, gift baskets and more.

So, if you are in the area this afternoon, truck on up to the Boardwalk and join the funeral procession.

I, personally, refuse to acknowledge the end of summer until we experience frost ! We're still planning our beach vacation for later this month.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kipona - A Celebration of Sparkling Water

Bright and early on Saturday morning, we set off for the Kipona Celebration in Harrisburg, PA. This annual three-day event takes place in downtown Harrisburg along the shores of the Susquehanna River. The festival is billed as "Kipona - A celebration of sparkling water." This huge event offers something for just about everyone.
Watching the boat races on the river in Harrisburg on Labor Day weekend was a long-time family tradition for us for quite a few years but we have had other plans for the last 7 years so this was like a homecoming for us. (Although neither of us has ever called Harrisburg "home.") The cigar boats have been replaced by dragon boats since we've been there and, unfortuantely, the dragon boat races were cancelled this year. It was apparently a last minute cancellation as they were still listed in both the printed programs and on the website.

Even without the boat races, it was a beautiful day on the river. The sun was out, a light gentle breeze blew all day and the temps hovered at about 80 degrees with fairly low humidity. Literally thousands of folks joined us in the park. We set our chairs up at the top of the river bank near the food stands and a short distance from one of the stages so we could sit and watch the river traffic, listen to music and munch on some goodies.


The boat of choice on this part of the river seems to be a rather small flat-bottomed pontoon style, generally seating 5-8 people. A number of them anchored just off the bulkhead to listen to the music. This was the first time I ever witnessed water skiing done from the back of a pontoon boat. I'd never seen one that could produce that kind of speed. (We, on the lower end of the river, have deeper, rougher water and you see very few pontoon style boats. In our end of the pond, we need longer keels and deeper draws for balance.)

At one end of the festival, one of the local grocery chains sponsored the Pennsylvania State Chili Cook-Off. In addition to the official competition, there was a salsa contest, a people's choice chili sampling for charity, a jalepeno pepper eating contest, a "hands-free" chili eating contest and a hot wing eating contest. There was also some music and entertainment on that stage. I'll admit, we never hiked all the way down to that end of the fair! (this festival runs for about 1 1/2 miles along the banks of the river and also has activities across the river on City Island.

There was a children's area featuring special entertainment, theater productions, games, crafts, and rides. Since we didn't have any munchkins with us, we also didn't venure into that area.


We did check out the many food booths. (I mean, they have LOTS of food there!) We sat near the stage that featured rock and alternative rock bands. I highly recommend a young rock band called The Milwaukees who played Saturday afternoon. They were followed by another rock/alternative band known as Knotfal. We also enjoyed them very much. We wanted to stay for the featured entertainer, The Sauce Boss - Bill Wharton, who plays fantastic slide guitar blues and also cooks a huge pot of gumbo on stage while performing and shares it with the audience at the conclusion of the show, but we needed to get on the road home as we had a long trip ahead of us.

Over 100 performances on 4 stages are scheduled throughout the weekend. One of the stages in the main festival area features folk music, salsa, classical music and Dixieland jazz. There is also a large presence of local Native Americans at this event ("Kipona" is an Indian word meaning Sparkling Water.) There is a Pow Wow conducted out on City Island and a ceremonial procession begins on the downtown side of the pedestrian bridge with the Indians dance stepping across the bridge to open the Pow Wow. There are Indian musicians playing at the main festival area and some dance demonstrations by the Aztecs and the Iroquois, such as the Candy Dance, Fire Dance and the Hoop Dance. There is also Intertribal dancing at the Pow Wow. The Wacongo Dance Company is also scheduled to perform authentic ancestral songs, drumming and dances of Central Africa.

Sunday's schedule featured a Bass Masters' "Bass Classic," canoe races and evening fireworks, one of the largest displays in the area. A soccer tournament will take place on Monday.

At one end of the festival, The Greater Harrisburg Arts Council presents the annual PSECU Artfest featuring over 150 juried artists from across the country. While the Kipona Festival is a free event, the craft show does have a minimal admission fee which does not seem to deter the crowd. The Big Guy chose to stay sitting along the river and listening to the music while I hiked through the craft show. (I'll tell you much more about this part in my Working the Shows Wednesday feature.) The show, itself, probably stretches out to about a half mile in length so he really wasn't up to the heavy duty walking. My legs are aching today. I must say, this was the highest quality craft show I have attended in several years. There was absolutely no buy/sell merchandise and just about every exhibitor had something new and different to look at. I spent about 2 hours walking the show and could have stayed much longer admiring the work and chatting with the artists and crafters. By the time one walks to and from the garage area, around the festival for a few hours and then adds in the craft show, you've covered a few miles.


One of the festival features that we have never done is walk the pedestrian bridge across to City Park. Unfortunately, it's a long walk and there is no shuttle back once you're over on the island. (I start hearing the tune about the guy who boards the subway and never returns when I consider that walk!) There is , however, a continual heavy flow of foot traffic there throughout the entire event. (There is a vehicle bridge further down and there are parking areas on the island.)

Today, we took it easy at an annual, very laid back, family and friends cookout. (Thank goodness, my legs need time to recover from all that hiking yesterday!!)

Here's hoping y'all are having a great weekend. Take care and have fun !!!